A woman’s right to choose is a fundamental human right. When a woman becomes pregnant, it should be her choice, and her choice alone, whether to continue the pregnancy or not. No woman should be forced to have a baby. That said, I want to talk about the other side of the pro-choice coin—the other choice. A woman should also have the right to continue the pregnancy without facing disrespect, even if she’s young, and even if the pregnancy was unplanned.
I found out I was pregnant at the very young age of 18. I was a freshman in college, and I was terrified (I ended up finishing college, by the way). I had never planned on having children at a young age. Although I have always been pro-choice, I really struggled over what I should do. I thought long and hard on the consequences of continuing the pregnancy, of raising a child at such a young age. I had pressure from loved ones to continue it, and I had pressure from loved ones to end it. I made the choice that I felt was right for me–I decided to have the baby.
From that point on, during and after my pregnancy, I was subjected to harsh criticism. From both pro-choice and anti-choice people. From religious and non-religious people. From women and men. People would look at me with disgust or pity for being a young mother. People would ask me how old I was or whether I was “old enough” to have a child. Sometimes, people would stare at my ring finger, presumably to determine whether I was married.
The choice I made was one that conservatives would have every woman make, whether she wants to or not. Would you like to know what I received from society for making that choice? Contempt. Disapproval. This makes no sense to me. The same people who are clamoring to “save the babies,” treat young mothers like shit. Sadly enough, the judgement doesn’t come only from right-wingers.
Fast-forward 5 years to today–I still get dirty looks from other people as my son and I shop for groceries or have dinner in a restaurant. I’ve learned to ignore it. I work hard to be the best mom I can be. It’s upsetting and frustrating that people decide that I’m not a good parent solely because of my age.
Can we stop judging young mothers already? It’s called pro-choice for a reason. Women should always have the right to make the choice that’s right for them, whether that is to end a pregnancy or continue it. I made the choice that was right for me. You should make the choice that’s right for you.